Homo Ludens cover

Homo Ludensa study of the play element in culture

by Johan Huizinga

published in 

first published in 1938


✔ Available to borrow

220 pages

published by The Beacon Press

published in Boston, MA

owned in Printed Book8080-4681-7 format

I agree with the main finding of the book of a throughline of play being critical to cultural and individual learning, but not with the author's hierarchy of more and less civilized societies that he uses to emphasize his point.

It was really exciting to hear Dan Olson mention this in his latest Folding Ideas essay, "The Future is a Dead Mall". It made me want to revisit this book. He ties Huizinga's concept of "the magic circle" to the pressure to cult-like hype and fraud in the metaverse financial industry. The magic circle is the social contract of games, the collective fiction that the rules and mechanics of a game space are meaningful and real; it is the essential social foundation that allows us all to recognize a touchdown or a foul in sports. The metaverse and its artificial scarcity rely on all of its participants to buy into the ludonarrative of the space as a real and valid space, with real and valid scarcity, in order for its investors to turn a profit.


Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: a study of the play element in culture. Boston, MA: The Beacon Press, 1955. Printed Book8080-4681-7.